This is probably one of the more common questions I get, and it usually comes up at the end of an appointment, asked in a hushed and slightly embarrassed voice. Don’t worry… you are not alone. A lot of dog owners have had to deal with this less than ideal behaviour. Assuming your dog is on a good quality food and is in relatively healthy (eating feces or Coprophagia can be a sign of illness) the reason is likely to be one of the following…
* I got it From My Momma – mothers will clean up after puppies during their first few weeks of life, and cleaning puppies backsides as well as the stools is normal. Sometimes puppies will watch and learn this habit from mom.
* I’m Soooo Bored! Without any other stimulation or activity to occupy a dogs time, some will resort to this habit out of boredom.
* Pay Attention to Me! If you scold your dog or make a big deal of this habit, they may start doing it just to get some attention.
* I’m Soooo Stressed! A stressed or anxious dog may turn to this habit as a coping mechanism. Stress can be from many sources (i.e. new home, new addition to family, punishment for the behaviour, etc…)
* I’m Soooo Hungry! Hunger can be due to stomach parasites, a disease affecting digestion of food, or simply not being fed enough. If hungry enough, dogs will try to eat whatever they can find.
* Hey, Why Not? Believe it or not, some dogs just eat feces because they like to. I wish I had a better reason to tell you, but there it is.
Now don’t worry, I’m with you on this and there are things you can do to break your dog of this disgusting trait. Techniques like changing the diet, environment enrichment, stress reduction, treating underlying issues, and just plain cleaning up quickly after your dog and eliminating the opportunity can help.
If you and your dog struggle with this little behaviour, your vet is your best source for help. Give us a call and we can help little Fido kick their nasty habit.